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LORD ARCII-BISHOP OF YORK, PRIMATE OF ENGLAND AND METROPOLITAN,
AND ONE OR
HIS MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PREIV Y-COUNCIL.
MAY IT PLEASE your GRACE,
and Mr Lowth, as án appendix to, and continuation of their useful design. I am far from thinking that I am engaged in a work equal to the nature of their subject, nor can I flatter myself with any hopes that this performance, with its many defects, will meet with the like favourable acceptance.
I was encouraged to pursue this design, from the many excellent things which are spoken of The Book of Wisdom by the fathers, and most early writers, and as our church has given a sort
of sanction to its usefulness, by allowing it, in conformity to ancient custom, to be read in her public service, I hope this consideration will justify present attempt, and apologize, in some measure, for my presumption in offering
Grace an Apocryphal book, and placing it under the protection of your great name ; especially, as I consider the uncanonical books upon the footing only of such primitive ecclesiastical writings, as many prelates, of the first eminence in the republic of letters, have not thought it beneath them to employ their learned labours
Was I permitted to observe the common practice in addresses of this kind, and to speak in the language of modern complaisance, the world might expect that I should
all those great qualities in which your Grace excels ; but I shall only beg leave to observe, that your rising merit early drew the eyes of a very discerning and learned prelate * upon you; and when, through age and infirmities, he was at length hindered from labouring in the word and doctrine, like David stricken in years, he transferred his charge upon no less able à successor, and the same great accomplishments reviving in your Grace, made the loss less sensible and regretted ; and equally
you to the same learned society, and to that illustrious name in particular,
now fills the highest station in the law with the most consummate abilities. And as if a double portion of the spirit of that Elijah rested upon you, in you we admire the same.justness of sentiments, clearness of expression, beauty of language, and
DEDICA TI O N. well conducted zeal. In you we trace his affectionate manner; sweet elocution, just: action, and those other moving graces of the preacher, which command the passions, and charm the attention, so that being dead lie yet speaketh,
Nor are yon, my Lord, less distinguished: by an affable and obliging temper, which: shines forth, and is displayed in that easiness of access and condescending goodness, which endear you to the love and esteem of all, and must render you particularly. amiable to that province, over which, by the designation of Providence, you preside with so general an applause.
As these great qualities, at length, conducted you so deservedly to the episcopate, so your speedy, advancement, as it were from glory. to glory, to the present high station which you fill
, is an instance of your superior merit; and consummate modesty ; both of which illustriously stand confessed; as you neither asked nor solicited this eminence ; it rather sought you out; and seemed to court you, so that I may justly draw the parallel between you and some celebrated names of antiquity, whose ambition was retirement, and their preferment a sort of violence. What the historian
of that. great general, Epaminondas, is truly applicable to your Grace, “ That he never “ made any interest for preferment; but was.courted.to accept it, and often forced into “ it; and he always discharged his trust in such a manner, as to do greater. honour to “ his station than he received from it *."
I could enlarge, with equal pleasure and truth, upon so copious and inviting an occasion ; but, to say, more, would, I fear, give offence to your Grace, and to say less would have been the highest: injustice in me; nor should an eloquence less than your own attempt to display your character.
That your Grace may lòng preside over the church, under the happy conduct and blessing of that Wisdom, in whose right-hand. is length of days, is the sincere prayer-of,
Recusanti omnia imperia ingesta sunt; Honoresque ita gessit, ut Ornamentum non accipere; sed dare ipsi i Dignitati videretut. Justin. lib. vi. c. 83.
lowing memorable events recorded in it,
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE. HERÉ have been so many excellent Commentaries published upon the Holy Scriptures,
and every one of the sacred books have been illustrated by the labours of so many learned and judicious persons, that it may be presumed nothing has escaped their enquiry, or seems necessary now to be added to their discoveries : But the Apocryphal Books, though they are placed next to the Canonical ones in the same common volume, and have some of them been esteemed, even by many Protestant writers, as second only to them for the usefulness of the matter and variety of instructions contained in them (see Sparrow's Rationale, p. 41. Raynol. Cens. Libr. Apocr. Præl. vii. lxxiv. Wheatley on the Common-Prayer, p. 140. Chemnit. de Script. Canon. Par. I. Falkener's Libert. Eccles. p. 160. Cosin's Schol. Hist. p. 8.) have hitherto received, though they confessedly stand in great need of light and illustration, very little help and advantage of this nature. The following Commentary therefore upon the Book of Wisdom, which the ancients had in so great esteem, and our church has thought not unworthy to be read in her public service, will, I fatter myself, be the more favourably received, and appear the more necessary, as there is no comment upon this
, or indeed any of the Apocryphal writings extant, that I know of, in our language ; and such as have written upon it'in other languages, being generally Popish expositors, have peryerted many passages to countenance their favourite opinions, which I have occasionally' taken notice of in the course of this work, to prevent any mischief from such an abuse.
That there are some exceptionable places in the book itself I do not deny ; and what book merely human is entirely without them ? Nor because I have undertaken the illustration of it, shall í be so disingenuous as to patronize, or even palliate its errors, much less cry it up as all perfection ; and therefore, as I shall neither, with the Roinanists, pretend that it is canonical, and to be put upon the same level with the inspired writings, against which opinion there are unsurmountable difficulties, both internal and external, so neither can I persuade myself; with too many Protestants, to decry it as useless and of no authority, for no other reason probably, but because the Church of Rome has paid too great a deference to this, and other writings confessedly Apocryphal, which I cannot think are all of thein of equal value, but that ihe Didactical Books, as they are called, viz. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, claim abundantly the preference, as in fact they are universally well spoken of and esteemed, and, I believe, have as many admirers, as they have readers, and may therefore, I hope, without any imputation or reflection, be as laudably commented upon, as any of the primitive ecclesiastical writings.
The Book of Wisdom in particular, to which the following sheets only relate, especially that part of it which refers to God's dealing with the Egyptians, is an epitome of the history of Exodus; it abounds with useful sentiments and instructive morals; we see in it repeated proofs of God's patience and long-suffering towards sinners, of his mercy and lovingkindness to his faithful servants, especially in their distress, and many lively instances of his justice and severity upon obstinate and irreclaimable transgressors : Such are the fol
" is the earth through the sin of our first parents ; the destruction of the old world by the
delage for its wickedness, after the repeated menaces of at least an age; the miraculous manner in which Noah's family were alone preserved from perishing by the waters ; the fire " which came down from heaven upon the unrighteous-cities, and the whole kingdom of Egypt punished, at different times, by ten terrible plagues.-In what manner
Wisdom coneducted the patriarchs, and other holy souls, the friends and favourites of God, in their several ages, inciting them to the most laudable actions, and, as a reward of their labours, reaching